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Dreamhunter - Elizabeth Knox Reading Dreamhunter is like walking through a dream. The prose is simple, but elegant, and it has this hypnotic quality that gradually draws you in and feel like something is so wonderfully off. And, like I have experienced in dreams, it is a reality that is wrapped firmly in the arms of fantasy, and it is that feel - combined with with an alternate history of New Zealand and drawing back further to other tales - creates a world and story that is very unique.

Dreamhunter is one of those stories where I fell more in love with the world than the characters at first. It's set in an alternate history New Zealand - called Southland - in a time period equivalent to the early 20th century. And it's a world where dreams exist in a place (simply called "the Place") where they are caught and shared as a form of entertainment, of healing, of inspiration... and torture. The real strength of this story was the mystery of the Place and the world of dreams and Dreamhunting. It is obviously a concept well thought out, and it shines through in the novel.

As an added bonus, there were many touches that I, as a New Zealander appreciated, and while this might not be the case for the majority of people reading this review, it's just an example of the layers to this story. One example is, as shown in the map in the early pages, the place known to us as Farewell Spit is, in this alternate history, called "So Long Spit"; a second example is the explanation of some of the history of Southland, the discovery of the Place and the origins of Dreamhunting, through an excerpt from a book called A History of Southland, by Dr Michael King - in real life, the late Dr King was the author of the famous The Penguin History of New Zealand.

The one thing that keeps Dreamhunter from earning a full five stars from me is that it is very slow to start. The story is divided into six parts, and the first of which, A Talented Family is a lot of world-building and introductions to characters, and a slow build-up to events. It's not done in a bad sense, but it is very easy to read a bit, put the book down and be a little disinclined to pick it up again. It was like trying to go to sleep so you can dream - in this case, not just a case of setting your head down on the pillow and closing your eyes. Fortunately, once you get to part two (The Try) the story picks up incredibly quickly from there, and becomes difficult to put down. All in all, it's definitely worth getting past that first segment.